Lake Arlington in Arlington Heights after today's 1.5 inch snowfall
Memories of a White St. Patrick's Day-- March 17, 1965 in Madison, Wisconsin
Today's white St. Patrick's Day in portions of the Chicago area brought back memories of a St. Patrick's Day in 1965 when I was an undergraduate meteorology student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. It had snowed hard all night and about 6 inches of snow was on the ground at 6 a.m. on March 17. The forecast called for another 6 inches of snow with storm totals of more than one foot expected, so the university canceled classes for the day. Well, by 8 a.m. the snow had ended and skies cleared after a snowfall total of only 6.9". With no classes to attend, partying began early making for a very memorable St. Patrick's Day. That same storm system brought 3.7" of snow to Chicago, but much of the precipitation here fell as rain.
Steve O'Kahner WGN-TV/Chicago Tribune Meteorologist
Wednesday’s readings in the lower 50s marked only the fourth day this month (out of 16) on which Chicago’s daytime temperatures managed to climb above normal. That raises the month’s tally of 50° days to three—half the total that climatology tells us to expect.
It will come as no surprise to Chicagoans anxious for spring warmth that the month thus far has been on the chilly side—in fact, among the coolest 25% of all March 1-16 periods since 1871. An altered wind and jet-stream pattern across North America suggests the persistent chill of recent weeks has ended, but the new regime might not be much more pleasant: Computer models indicate heavier rainfall and considerably more temperature variability during the latter half of the month. But we can use the rain. Through March 16, we have recorded only 23% of normal rainfall for that period.
Twelve of this month’s first 15 days featured below-normal temperatures here, a fact not lost on Chicagoans displeased with the persistent chill. An evolving weather pattern now suggests the cold regime is ending, but the price to be paid for milder temps is unsettled weather in upcoming days. A western U.S. storm system has begun to eject pieces of energy into the Southern Plains, one manifestation of which is heavy snow across the Texas Panhandle. Consider Amarillo, Texas. On average, that city receives 2.5 inches of snow in March, but with an expectation of ten inches of snow before the storm ends early Wednesday, Amarillo will record, in one storm, four times its entire normal March compliment of snow. It was enough to prompt meteorologist Matthew Kramar of the Amarillo National Weather Service Office to cry, “Fie! Contemptible white snowbeast...begone! Thy icy core doth reek of rank treachery.”